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Updated 14/01/2001

Country Sports Couple barred from adopting


A COUPLE seeking to adopt a child claim that politically correct social workers have rejected them because of their love for dogs and countryside sports, including shooting.

Martin and Shirley Phipps from Upstreet, Nr Canterbury keep three Labradors, chickens, a rabbit and two ferrets, and enjoy country sports, including fishing and shooting. The couple are comfortably off - Mr Phipps works as an Agricultural Stores Manager - and felt that they would be ideally placed to offer a home to one of the thousands of children in the UK in need of adoption. However, after two years, the verdict from a Kent Social Services says that the couple are “unsuitable as parents”.
Mr Phipps said “the social workers were against us from the start because we have dogs and I own guns for which I have a firearm’s certificate. They don’t understand the country way.

“The tragedy is that we could offer a loving and stable home and a wonderful country upbringing to a child. Whatever reasons we have been given for our rejection, we believe it is down to our lifestyle.”
The couple first applied to adopt a child in August 1998. During one meeting at that time, Mr Phipps said he enjoyed shooting and had three dogs, a social worker said she didn’t know what the policy was on either matter.

It became clear however, during subsequent discussions and visits from social workers that concerns were being expressed about the couple’s suitability.

Mr Phipps said that when one senior social worker came to their home in 1999, she threw her arms in the air and said, “Oh no, dogs! Don’t go near”.

Mr Phipps claims that the same social worker suggested that if they wished to adopt they should find homes for two of the dogs.

Kent Social Services denied that the Phipps had been rejected because of their guns and dogs. Peter Gilroy, Director of Kent Social Services said, “the couple were unwilling to consider any child who had been through any trauma or had any form of disability. The panel decided that they would not be able to meet the needs of the children we have available for adoption. It’s nothing to do with their ownership of guns or dogs. There were delays because we wanted to be as fair to the couple as possible.”

The Phipps’ MP, Julian Brazier, is a leading adoption reform campaigner. Mr Brazier said: “There are 54,000 children in care, of whom about half could easily be adopted. Every time a family is turned down for politically correct reasons, it means that another child is left in care and denied the chance of long-term stability.”

- Full Report in January 12th 2001 Issue of Our Dogs
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